“Aside from expanding social housing, rent control is the single most important policy needed to address the housing affordability crisis faced by our precious community members. It is especially crucial for low-income communities of color and our homeless neighbors.”
“If the Seattle City Council — with eight out of nine members being Democrats — allows this bill to fail, the Democratic Party will have made it clear once again that they stand with wealthy corporations, not working people and the most marginalized.”
Los Angeles - Cornel West, independent candidate for president of the United States from the Green Party, released the following statement in support of the strong rent control legislation put forward in Seattle by Socialist Alternative member and City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, urging all Seattle City Councilmembers to vote YES during the August 1st final vote on the legislation:
“I stand with the fight for rent control currently underway in Seattle, Washington, which is of great significance not just for the working people and families of color in that city, but for the millions of Americans struggling for our very survival and basic dignity as the billionaires make ever-greater profits at our expense.
“Seattle City Councilmembers, I urge you to vote YES on Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s strong rent control legislation. Supporting this legislation is a moral imperative. Aside from expanding social housing, rent control is the single most important policy needed to address the housing affordability crisis faced by our precious community members. It is especially crucial for low-income communities of color and our homeless neighbors.
“If the Seattle City Council—with eight out of nine members being Democrats—allows this bill to fail, the Democratic Party will have made it clear once again that they stand with wealthy corporations, not working people and the most marginalized.
“A victory for strong rent control in Seattle would undoubtedly be a crucial step forward in our fight for national housing justice, including rent control on the federal level, which my Presidential campaign is calling for. We need nationwide solidarity with Seattle’s poor and working people, union members, and marginalized community members, who are waging a courageous battle for strong rent control against powerful multimillionaire and billionaire corporate landlords. It is an example of the kind of movement we need, and that is the only path forward for America.
“The skyrocketing cost of living across the country in recent years has been a nightmare for working people. Their wages have hardly moved an inch in comparison to the exploding costs of basic needs like groceries, gas, and housing. A recent survey found that 39 percent of Americans (and 44 percent of Millennials) are skipping meals to afford rent, and for the first time in decades the average American spends more than 30 percent of their income on rent, which is the threshold for being rent-burdened.
“As corporate executives and Wall Street representatives have themselves conceded, the debilitating price hikes faced by the majority of Americans has a lot to do with “greedflation.” The unchecked greed of the wealthy has pushed prices higher and higher. Corporations like PepsiCo, General Mills, and Kimberly-Clark have been forced to admit to artificially inflating prices to keep padding their profits. Perhaps the most scandalous illustration is the corporate-controlled for-profit rental housing market.
“Last year, ProPublica exposed that the biggest corporate landlords in the U.S. have been using targeted software to collectively drive up rents, often by double digits. There are now several lawsuits filed by renters who allege that these landlords have engaged in an illegal price-fixing scheme that has earned them record profits, at enormous cost to renters who are barely surviving. The six biggest corporate landlords reported profits of $4.3 billion in 2022, which is $1.3 billion more than their profits the year before.
“In this context, every City Councilmember in Seattle has a choice to make that is of deep moral consequence: do you support wealthy corporate landlords controlling rents in the interest of their already-massive profits, or do you support rent control that would cap rents that will especially benefit working-class and poor Black and brown families, Indigenous communities, and LGBTQ people? Which side are you on? Your vote on August 1st will make it very clear. I urge you to vote YES.
“The Washington State Legislature has failed to lift the unjust state ban on rent control, which Democrats and Republicans passed in 1981 and have left in place ever since. Councilmember Sawant’s legislation is a trigger law, which would go into effect as soon as the state ban is lifted, and winning the trigger law will itself provide important momentum to take this fight to the State Legislature.
“All of this underscores why I am running as an independent third-party candidate with the Green Party, and not as a Democrat. Contrast the approach of the Democrats with that of independent socialist Kshama Sawant, who has used her office as a platform for building working-class movements to win historic victories, like the first $15 minimum wage in any major city in 2015, the Amazon Tax on Seattle’s biggest corporations to fund affordable housing, and ten landmark renters’ rights laws. It is all the more shameful that President Joe Biden has completely abandoned his campaign promise for a federal $15 minimum wage, nearly a decade after it was won in Seattle by socialists and working people. It is only one of the many promises to the American working class that Biden and his fellow Democrats have discarded in the interests of the billionaire class.
“We need to build movements to win victories for working and oppressed people, independent of the Democratic and Republican parties. I am inspired by the hundreds of renters and community members in Seattle who have spoken up and are continuing to fight for rent control, and am proud to stand with them. Seattle City Council: vote YES on rent control!”
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